Hong Kong leader eyes overseas talent, deeper China ties in policy plan

Hong Kong, Oct 19 (EFE).- Hong Kong’s top leader John Lee delivered his maiden policy address on Wednesday, laying out his plans for the Asian financial city, which include attracting overseas talent, nurturing the city as an innovation hub, increasing housing supply and deepening Hong Kong’s ties with mainland China.

Speaking at the city’s mini-parliament at 11.00 local time, Lee announced a host of strategies to attract talent from overseas and mainland China to Hong Kong. These include allowing high-earners and graduates from the world’s top 100 universities to stay in Hong Kong for two years without having secured a job offer beforehand.

The offer came at a time when Hong Kong is suffering from a brain drain amid the city’s strict Covid-19 rules and changing political situation.

Lee has dismissed the oft-quoted term “migration wave” to describe the city’s shrinking population. Nevertheless, he noted in his speech today that Hong Kong has seen a decline in local workforce by about 140,000 in the past two years.

Lee, who was elected chief executive in an uncontested race in May, also unveiled a multibillion-Hong Kong dollar push to re-industrialize the semi-autonomous Chinese city and establish it as an innovation and technology hub.

These include luring foreign IT companies to set up businesses in Hong Kong, funding university researchers, and developing the “Northern Metropolis” in the northern part of Hong Kong.

Some government offices currently located in the core business district of Hong Kong will be moved to the metropolis. Lee said the metropolis’ proximity to mainland China will create synergy with southern Chinese cities such as Shenzhen and Guangdong.

Lee’s innovation blueprint came two weeks after the US government announced a sweeping measure to cut China off from certain semiconductor chips made anywhere in the world using US equipment in a bid to curb China’s access to critical technologies.

On housing, Lee vowed to increase public housing supply by 25 per cent and reduce the waiting time for applicants for public housing in a territory recently ranked the most expensive city in the world to live in.

In the past weeks, there had been hopes and speculation that Lee would announce further relaxation of Covid-restrictions in Hong Kong.

On 26 September, Lee’s administration removed the unpopular compulsory hotel quarantine rule, which for more than two years had put off visitors and prompted residents to quit the city.

Visitors to Hong Kong are now required to undergo three days of home medical surveillance with limited citywide movement.

Lee made no mention of further relaxation of Covid-induced restrictions on Wednesday.

Commenting on the policy address, George Leung, head of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, told the city’s Commercial Radio that Hong Kong’s current brain drain is mainly to do with the city’s Covid rules.

He said while the new measures to lure talents would help, they are not particularly more attractive than those offered by places like Singapore and London.EFE


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